1 Cor an intro
Elder Retreat – last weekend of the month
Psalm 139 – start by acknowledging God knows us
Prepare by asking God to examine our hearts
And see if there be any wicked way in us
As we go before him
Want to keep in mind
4 characteristics of His church
Found in our passage today
4 characteristics that we
As the Body of Christ…
As God’s people…
As His church…
We’ll see that, as a church we are…
1. Set apart by God
2. Enriched by God’s grace
3. Expecting Jesus to Return
4. Depending on God’s Faithfulness
How do we get here?
How do we accomplish this?
I pray that by the end of our message today
By the end of our Elder’s weekend together
We will all realize
That we already have All We Need
We’re going to start our study in 1 Corinthians today
By looking at the first 9 verses of Chapter one
I want to share some background
On the ancient city of Corinth
So we can get a full appreciation
For the context of Paul’s letter to the church there
But in addition to that background
I want to show you 4 things
This text offers us today…
Let’s take look at Corinth first…
(slide) Here’s the Mediterranean region
(slide) Here’s the area around Greece and Italy
(Slide) Corinth is in Greece
Greece is divided into two sections
The north and the south
They are joined by this narrow isthmus
(slide) and that is where Corinth is
(slide) Athens is about 40 miles away
(slide) and Rome is up in this direction
Ships had a difficult time
Trying to go the long way around
So they would drag the ships
On skids and rollers
The few miles across this isthmus
And sail north in the protected waters
Of this gulf bay, the Gulf of Corinth
All this travel
Made Corinth a very busy city
It was a major trade artery
It sits atop a large, flat plateau
And as such
Was a strategic military position
It wasn’t the biggest city in the land
But it was huge in its importance
Corinth was a major entertainment center
It was sophisticated and advanced
It was a major hub for the entire world economy
it had an worldwide reputation
For academic and cultural debate
And for public oration and forums
On philosophical, political
and intellectual matters
it was, in many ways,
a lot like Wash. DC!
As you can imagine…
With so much money floating around
With so much sophistication to boast of
With so much of the world…
Pouring through Corinth,
The city had monumental problems
It was notorious for it’s pagan worship
With a strong emphasis on and a huge temple
Dedicated to Aphrodite,
The Greek goddess of love
With over a thousand temple priestesses
And ritual prostitutes
And it was this preoccupation with lust
That dominated everything they did
All over the pagan world,
Corinth was know for its moral corruption
It was so well associated with sensuality and debauchery
That the Greeks had a term that meant
“To behave like a Corinthian”.
It meant to live in gross immorality…
In his letter,
Paul lists some of the sins
This city is noted for…
Abusive and evil speech
Worldwide – the name of Corinth was synonymous
If you want a quick snapshot
Let’s take a look at Romans 1
Paul wrote his letter to the Romans
While he was staying in Corinth
You can just see him
Sitting at a desk
Looking out over the city
Seeing all that is going on
And writing this….
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
So this was the city
Paul started a church in
And while we will see that God blessed this church
We will also see that it had
Some major problems
Primarily because it had allowed
The world around it
To creep into the church
Instead of being the influencers in Corinth
The church there had become the influenced
In stead of being examples of holiness, love
Piety and discipline….
They let liberalism, tolerance,
Entitlement and partisanship
Begin to characterize God’s church
Please listen carefully….
Undoubtedly this was a fun church to be in
There was always a lot going on
people from all over the city could come there
And be comfortable
And have a great experience
On Sunday morning
No demands were put upon them
Everyone could do what they wanted to do
Whenever they wanted to do it
They were “free in Christ”
No one was going to quench the spirit there!
Yes, they had it all…
And they could keep all their old friends!
Could keep all their old habits!
Because the church had already
Shown that there were no
Consequences for sin
Indeed, the church was saved
But it had a lot to learn
And the first thing they had to learn
Was that they had to
They had to leave the world behind
That they were in the world
But no longer of it
They had to come to the knowledge
That they didn’t need all that stuff anymore
All they needed…
1 Corinthians 1
1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
I want to take a moment
And look at Paul before we read his letter
And see if there’s anything we can learn from
His view of himself
How did Paul know he was an apostle?
Where does this authority come from?
Did he just declare, one day
That he was an apostle?
How did he get that title?
Let’s look in Acts 22
6 “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me,
7 and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’
8 “And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’
9 “And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.
10 “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’
11 “But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.
12 “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
13 came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him.
14 “And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.
15 ‘For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.
You see, his authority came from
Knowing that God called him
To be a messenger
It came from having
a face to face encounter
with a living God
in a dramatic way
and then listening to
what He had to say
You see, it wasn’t just the encounter
Paul had on the Damascus Road
That made him an Apostle,
It was his reaction to that encounter
Paul’s change of behavior
and change of heart
that completed the change
A lot of us want to hear from God
A lot of us want to have
a “burning bush experience”
like Moses had
(recount Moses in Ex. Ch 3)
So Moses had the original burning bush experience
But it wasn’t the bush
that made Moses who he was
it was his reaction to it!
Look at the similarities here…
Both men, Moses and Paul
Have an amazing experience,
Both men, in the middle of this amazing experience
Are called to do the one thing
They don’t want to do the most
Both men could have refused…
Both cold have walked away…
Moses could have remained a shepherd in Midian
Paul could have gone on doing what he was doing
Both men chose to respond to the call
How does this apply in our lives?
God’s calling in our lives is far more clear to us
Than it was to Moses or Paul
All they had were their experiences
And we should beware how much
We trust our experiences…
You know how that goes…
Our perception of the experience changes
As time passes…
We can talk ourselves out of doing
What we know we should do
So our experiences, at times, can be unreliable
We don’t have to rely on experience…
We have the Word of God
We have a letter from Him
A letter Ttat leaves no doubt
that we are called to do
God gives us commandments…
Not just the “10 Commandments”
But He gives us directions
They’re everywhere we look in Scripture…
Guidelines and commandments…
On how to get along with each other…
How to raise our kids…
How to behave…
How to do business…
How to work…
How to worship
and a lot of other things
this is why God says of His Word…
2 Tim 3: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
So we have God’s word
And don’t have to rely on the subjectivity
Of our own feeling and experiences
But just like Moses and Paul
The Word is not enough…
We have to participate…
We have to respond to God’s Word
If we are ever going to live a life
Of blessing and fullness
And this is one of the major themes
Of the entire book of 1 Corinthians
How the people respond to God’s word
Are they doing what seems right to them?
Or are they doing what they’ve been taught
Through the men God sent to teach them?
So Paul was an apostle,
And he writes with the authority of one on this letter
And he’s with Sosthenes soce-then´-ace …
Who Paul met while he was establishing the church at Corinth
That happened in Acts 18…
Let’s take a look
1 After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth.
2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them,
3 and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers.
4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
7 Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue.
8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.
9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;
10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”
11 And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
12 But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat,
13 saying, “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.”
14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you;
15 but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters.”
16 And he drove them away from the judgment seat.
17 And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat. But Gallio was not concerned about any of these things.
This is where we meet Sosthenes
He was the leader of the synagogue in Corinth
But when Paul writes his letter
Sosthenes is traveling with him
Having been converted through Paul’s ministry
2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
We see that the letter is to the “church” at Corinth
The word church means “ a called out people”
People who are set apart by God (1st characteristic)
Set apart from the world
Set apart from the fate of the world
Given a place and a part in God’s kingdom
It’s kind of like having an address…
Each church has two addresses,
A physical geographic address
Ours is 46 Winchester ST
And a spiritual address
Each church is made up of saints
Not dead people who are being honored by men
But living people who are identified
By their relationship with a living God
So it stands to reason that if the church
Is a people set apart for God
And you are part of the church…
then you, if you’re born again,
Are set apart
For God’s purposes
Now that’s a pretty big honor
And a pretty big blessing
And Paul mentions another blessing
That comes along with it
Sanctification (again, to be set apart, to be made holy)
How is this done? How are we sanctified?...
(in Christ by God’s Calling)
And in this we see something interesting
God’s people are sanctified positionally
By their spiritual address (In Christ)
But not practically…
It’s obvious by what follows
That they are not
Leading holy lives.
What does this mean?
It means that we, as God’s people
Are declared holy,
Not by anything we do
But by God’s recognition of Christ in us
In other words, if we are going to be holy
If we’re going to be sanctified
God is all we need
And although we are declared holy
As long as we are in these flesh and blood bodies
We cannot lead holy lives
Yet, God calls us
To strive to be holy…
To recognize the blessing He has conferred
And honor Him by, at least, trying
To be obedient to His Word
That’s our job,
As His church…
To recognize that we are unable to lead holy lives
To realize that, even though we can’t do that,
God saves us anyway,
He save us by virtue of His Son’s righteousness
And in honor of that great gift
We try to lead holy lives
knowing that… In our own strength
But in God’s strength,
All thing are possible…
You see, He’s all you need
And He’s all we need
In order to be His church
What types of folks are called to His church?
(those who name the Lord)
An outward sign of the inward change
Outward sign is demonstrate by our behavior
Which should reflect our sanctification
We’ve already said
That our holiness comes solely through God’s calling
Not by anything we do
But our holiness should be reflected
in the things we do
in how we behave
in how we live our lives
Through Christ, we are made holy
As we are transformed, we participate in that holiness
Be making it our goal to live in a holy manner
We still live in a corrupt world
Just like the Church in Corinth was in a corrupt city
But just like the church in Corinth
We are called to be holy in an unholy world
And we can do this only because
We have this relationship
With such a powerful and merciful
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul concludes his salutation
With a mini-gospel presentation
And a prayer of blessing
4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,
This is an interesting statement
Particularly so considering what Paul
Is about to address in the Corinthian church
Which seems to be struggling
With a number of issues
One of which was calling
Attention to themselves
A feeling of spiritual
Paul says this…
“I thank God that the things you have…
Come from Him, through His Son.
They’re all gifts of grace,
The message here is this…
God’s gifts are not because you’re so great
They’re there because He is so great!
Then he goes on to say…
5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,
Now Paul starts to get personal and specific
First he tells them
That everything they have been blessed with
Comes from God
As a gift of grace
Not because of their greatness
But because God decided
To give it to them
Based on His attributes
You see, as a church and as individuals
We are constantly being blessed
We are continually being enriched
by God’s grace…(2nd point)
We are blessed when we are saved
And, by His grace, we receive spiritual gifts
We spoke of that in 2 Timothy
We all have a unique gift
And we have common gifts as well
Remember the common gifts…
The power of love
And the power of discipline
These gifts enrich us
The word for “enrich” means
A very wealthy person
The Corinthians are especially rich in gifts
But they weren’t using them
in a spiritual manner
at least not one that honors God
And Paul tells them that even
The gifts this church in Corinth are noted for
Gifts of utterance (tongues) and knowledge (prophecy)
Are God’s gifts
Gifts that God has enriched them with
And these gifts are
the means God has used
To enrich them
through their relationship
It is only because the Corinthian Church was part of the Body
That God chose to bless them with these gifts…
Gifts that had to do with outward expression
Of their relationship with God…
Gifts of tongues
And gifts that had to do with inward expression
Of their relationship with God
Gifts of prophecy, and wisdom and
discernment and interpretation.
None of this occurred because
There was something special about the Corinthian Church
There was nothing that made them
More worthy of anything
There was nothing that made them
More mature (as we will soon find out)
There was noting that made them
They were gifts given
By the grace of God
For the glory of God
And look at this!....
The gifts were given to them why?
To perform miracles?
To wow themselves with signs and wonders?
To build their faith?
The gifs were given to them as a witness…
As a demonstration…
As a demonstration to the people of Corinth
A people that had mistakenly built their city
And their lives around
what they saw and heard
and what they experienced…
god gave His church the tools it needed
to reach the people it lived among!
It was all about the lost!
It was for the benefit of the people who didn’t know God
Not the people in the church…
They already knew God!
The church thought it was for them!
But God gave them the gifts
As a demonstration, a witness
Of the presence of God within them
It says so right in the next verse…
6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,
The fact that they had the gifts
Was confirmation of God’s work
In their lives.
They had heard the gospel
They received it, in faith
And God gave them these gifts
As a way of testifying to their salvation
This is true of all gifts God gives us
Not just these few gifts here
We need to ponder that for a moment
Because I know that we all get to
Comparing our gifts
With those God gives others,
Sometimes thinking that He gives
Better people better gifts!
All the gifts God gives anyone
Are gifts of grace
None are better than the other
But even more importantly…
All the gifts are given as a testimony
To His greatness
We need to get that!
Because as soon as we start comparing things
We begin to prioritize them as well
And when we do that…
We make His gifts about us
And that’s a mistake
Paul tells us much the same thing in the next verse…
He continues on
7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
He tells them they are not lacking anything in the way of a gift
Now that may seem an odd statement to make
To a church that has been blessed with
So many miraculous gifts
But if we look a little closer
At what’s happening here
We can see the big picture…
Paul opens with praise, thanksgiving and encouragement
He tells them that everything they have
Came from God
And is to serve God’s purpose in their lives
And that it’s all there
To show the world that God
Is there among them
And that none of this is because
They are special
But because God is
And now Paul tells the Corinthian church
That they are lacking nothing
They have everything they need
God has given them everything
He intends for them to have
On order for them to do
What He wants them to do
Now, if we’ve read ahead
With some understanding
We know that Paul is about to
Reveal to the Corinthian Church
That they have some pretty severe problems
One of them is this…
They thought the gifts
Made them spiritually mature
it wasn’t the gifts
That made them spiritually mature
It was the way they used the gifts
That would mark their growth..
And they weren’t doing
Very well at that.
Paul is about to say to them and to us…
“There’s nothing missing!”
“You have everything you need!”
“It’s all there!”
“but you need to learn how to use it!”
You’re not deficient!
You’re not lost!
You’re not doomed
But you need to know
That you don’t know everything
I’ve given you all you need…
But that’s all you need!
They were looking
(talk about getting a new bike for Christmas
Had the bike….
But didn’t know how to ride it
Thinking I did, and trying to show off
I got a lot of scraped knees…
I had to learn how to use the bike)
This is what was happening to the Corinthians
They had the bike
And, wanting to show off
They were scraping their knees!
The Corinthians had to learn
How to use their gifts
And Paul tells them how to do this…
By eagerly awaiting the revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ”
By keeping our eyes on Him!
And living like He was really coming back!
And coming back soon (elaborate on how we might live if we knew…)
Paul wants to live
Like we are expecting Jesus to return! (3rd point)
When we do…
When we keep our eyes on Him
We’re going to be less likely
To try to elevate ourselves!
Then Paul o0ffers a word of encouragement
He says Christ is the one…
8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And it’s as if Paul were to say,
“It’s OK. God’s in control.
You’re going to be alright.
We’re all growing,
we’re all learning
and we’re all going to the same place.”
Why is this so?
9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul’s encouragement is for them
To depend on God’s faithfulness (4th point)
To depend on God to do
What He said He will do
In the way He said He would do it
Now, If we know that….
Then we don’t have to depend on ourselves
If you’ve ever tried to do that…
Depend on yourself….
Then you know a few things…
1. It’s very hard and sometimes painful and lonely
2. You’re not always successful at it
3. the area of your greatest struggle
Is the area you will most likely fail
God promise to wipe every tear away
He promises that there will come a day…
When there is no pain
He promises that we will never be lonely
Because He will always be there
He promises that even when we fail
He will succeed
And He will love us
No matter what
And that nothing will ever separate us
From that love
God is everything…(SLIDE)
He is everyone…
He is all…you….need (Slide)